You may have heard me say that our cooperative is really a “social experiment disguised as a business.” Here is what I mean by that:
While most businesses measure their success by bottom line profits, we here at Organic Valley have a different notion about what real profit is. As a national brand with a regional production and distribution model, we understand the importance of supporting the local communities with whom we do business. Therefore, we count the number of farmers we are keeping on the land farming organically (1624), the number of staff working in our rural community (564), the number of plants in the regions where our farmer-owners live (92), the number of non-profit organizations we support (600+), the number of milk truck drivers (135), and the millions of citizen partners who enjoy the delicious benefits of our organic farming practices and cooperative business model.
Life is more than money. Life includes the values of health, culture, community and family—and so, too, should business. We are all taking part in a greater social experiment when we stop to ask important questions: What is good health worth? How can we farm to protect the environment for future generations? And what is the link between good soil and good health? As we face a very broken food system responsible for increases in obesity, diabetes and a host of other health problems, we’ve come to wholeheartedly believe that organic is the one solution that addresses it all. Our social experiment of a business is needed now more than ever to help us achieve good health and change for the good.
To our farmers, staff, friends, supporters, activists, colleagues and fellow eaters, I want to express a most heartfelt thank you in this new year for having such an important role in our quest to be a different kind of business—a business where social and cultural values are at the table each and every day in all the decisions we make.
George L. Siemon